Friday 24 January 2020

Last night's TV: Young Apprentice

Team Atomic pitch their brand of popcorn to a chain of cinemas
Team Atomic pitch their brand of popcorn to a chain of cinemas

Morwenna Ferrier reviews the penultimate episode of the Young Apprentice, which sees four candidates fired in one fell swoop.

To Leeds, then, for the semi-finals of this year’s Young Apprentice. By and large, this series has been a corker. And, as unnerving as it is to watch children dressed in pinstripe discussing USPs at great length, the antics of these six remaining candidates made for suitably gripping viewing tonight thanks, primarily, to a delightful twist which meant the entire losing team, as well as the weakest candidate in the winning team, would be fired. So four departures in one cull. Ouch. Still, onwards and upwards, warned Lord Sugar as he announced their brief, “because if ever team work was needed, it’s now.”

Team Atomic consisted of the two Harrys and Lizzie while in Team Kinetic, we had Zara, Haya and James. Their task? To create a brand of popcorn to slot into a largely oversubscribed £43m market. Events kicked off in a Travelodge by the River Aire where, over a series of mini-meetings, they calmly chose their respective Project Managers and headed off to make some popcorn. PM James opted for savoury, with the team deciding on an ill-judged marriage of feta with olives and another involving chorizo before naming their brand La Popcorn, presumably because ‘la’ is French and France is the home of both feta and chorizo. “La Popcorn” muttered Nick witheringly in the boardroom, “it’s hardly a leap of faith.”

Meanwhile in a diner across town, the boys Atomic decided their flavour should be American but bickered over the brand name. PM Harry H wanted ‘Empire State’ while Harry M suggested ‘Smoochie’. Harry H won leaving the other Harry to sulk loudly and sporadically throughout the rest of the episode. Still at least they agreed on fairly palatable flavours - barbecued chicken, and pancakes and maple syrup. Odeon were impressed, as were Morrisons, with both companies later ordering several thousand boxes each.

As is often the case by this stage in the competition, the candidates had discovered their actual, rather than self-perceived, strengths. And just as their eloquence in the boardroom seems to be the dominant factor in their success, (as Muhamed discovered to his peril in episode one), most of them had a go at pitching and all respectively nailed it. In the end, Atomic – the stronger, nicer team - fell just short of sales and the whole team was fired. Morrisons, it transpired, were inexplicably wowed by Kinetic’s novel take on feta and ordered 100,000 bags.

While the Young Apprentice far supercedes its adult counterpart, both fail their viewers in the boardroom, a room which has fast become a venue for Sugar’s management sermons rather than the candidates’ undignified, tearful (ergo hilarious) ‘save me’ speeches. Thankfully though, owing to good behaviour, Sugar had very little to say and instead got straight to the fourth and final elimination. James went through, Haya and her wonderful lipstick didn’t, leaving Zara “one of the most eloquent people” Sugar had ever met, also in the running and surely the favourite if only for successfully comparing her learning abilities to those of “a huge sponge”.

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